A Glimpse of Self Realisation
New Book about Sri Ramana Maharshi
“In my opinion, Aham Sphurana, a Glimpse of Self Realisation, will become a Treasure Trove of Wisdom to the Seekers of Truth in general, and particularly to the devotees of Bhagavan.”
Swami Hamsananda – Athithi Ashram, Tiruvannamalai
It is well past midnight, but since I am feeling inexplicably feverish I have not returned to my lodgings near the temple today. The Hall is dark and quiet; the only sound found to be embellishing the electrifying silence permeating this hallowed Temple of the Presence is the gentle breathing of the young men sleeping at the back of the Hall. The master is as usual seated upright upon the Sofa, his eyes as unimpressionable and starry as ever. These lustrous eyes are brightly lit with a light that is not of this world. I am reminded of the words of the Christ: “My kingdom is not of this world.” These wonderful eyes ostensibly belong to a human, but the Immortal-being which gazes through and out of them is clearly inhuman.
One look into those eyes is enough to convey the truth that this man is really not here at all, that he has been devoured without trace by the Beyond, that he is quite, quite lost in that unfathomably supreme Divinity, perpetually elusive to sensory perception, which man is wont to call God. In this duration of merely seven weeks or so, I reflect in joyously surprised contemplation, how much he has altered me for the better, hopelessly incorrigible wastrel that I was. Peering into those fathomlessly deep eyes, I remember with wry bemusement how petty my life’s concerns had been before meeting him.
Precisely at that moment, unexpectedly, a deluge of loving gratitude for everything he is and everything he has done for me suddenly bursts through my mind, like raging water exploding out of a pulverised reservoir whose inundation far beyond capacity has resulted in its utter collapse. I am racked and convulsed with silent, helpless sobs. Those great orbs slowly turn and look at me, as though just then registering my presence. A smile of enchanting sweetness gently comes to play on the Maharshi’s lips. “You know I do not deserve your Grace, master. Why then give it to me? Is that not wrong?” I ask him from within my mind.
The master laughs like a child and says softly,
“The redeeming power of Love alone makes one worthy of Grace. If you have a heart that knows to truly Love, be assured that you have the instrument in your hands with which to win over Emancipation. Love alone is the கடப்பாரை [Crowbar] with which to prise open the terrifically strong knot of the Heart.”
The words make the hairs all over my body stand on end; a thrill of sheer, ecstatic joy runs up my spine, and I shudder involuntarily. My body trembles and shivers with the strain of maintaining continual eye-contact; but I am unable to resist the temptation to go on looking, for here is an ocean of supreme, sovereign Serenity, and immersion in her blissful waters provides my beleaguered, wearied soul with nonpareil refreshment and rejuvenation that is verily “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding“.
For the first time, I understand practically, as an insight, the meaning of the master’s oft- repeated maxim,
“You may imagine to yourself that you have parted from God, but know that He never parts from you.”
Then, without warning, a spasm of pain crossed my abdomen and moments later I lay supine on the floor, whimpering in alarm. The master said,
“Do not be discomposed. That which has been aimed at the head: let it carry the turban away. You may collect some thornier from the Mathrubuteshwarar shrine. Dissolve a small quantity in water and drink it whenever you have this sort oftrouble [affliction of the gastroenterological system]. Also, you may resume chanting the Hanuman chalisa.”
I did not ask how he knew; I am now convinced that the body on the couch before me is simply a mask or vehicle for God Himself to guide me, and he is Himself that God. Before I lost my parents and in consequence also my faith in God, I would meticulously follow my mother’s instruction to chant Hanuman Chalisa before going to sleep. Hanuman was the only diety I would worship as a child. Whilst I lived with my parents in Tiruppathur, I would- everyday without fail- visit a nearby temple which had a small shrine of Hanuman in it. On weekdays I would, all the while chanting, “Buddhirbalam yasho dhairyam nirbhayatvam arogatam ajathyam vak patutvam cha hanumatsmaranadbhavaet. Asadhya sadhaka svamin asadhya thava kimvadha rama dhoota krupasindho mathkaryam sadhyaprabbo. Manojavam marothathulya vaegam jithaendriyam buddhimatham varishtam vathathmajam vanarayoota mukhyam shrirama dhootam sharanam prapadye.”, circumambulate the shrine 27 times; on weekends 108.
Once a year we would go to the Hanuman temple at Namakkal. The day my parents died, I grabbed the little book from which my mother painstakingly taught me to utter the hymn Hanuman chalisa, and ferociously tore it up. Then, after dark, I unobtrusively slipped away from home for a few minutes, went to an unlit corner of the temple wall, and urinated on it, quietly saying under my breath, “You Satanic, primitive monkey, how grandiloquently you have rewarded me for worshipping you…” On that day when I was fifteen God was banished from my mind;
He returned, I think, the moment the master’s gaze fell on me for the first time. I rose from the floor, prostrated before Bhagavan, who was smiling for some reason, and struggling with the pain sawing through my abdomen, I clutched my stomach and rushed to the tomb of Bhagavan’s mother. It was pitch dark. To add to my misery, I was suddenly attacked, without provocation! A noose made out of prickly jute fiber fell over my head and about my neck; although the person holding the rope made no effort to tighten it to the point of strangulation, but merely held it firmly in, apparently, an attempt to ensure that I was rendered incapable of locomotion and thus of making myself scarce, the immediate thought that occurred to my agitated, panicked mind at the time was that I was being garroted from behind by some murderous ruffian.
Not to be outdone, as I was struggling to throw off the rope, I simultaneously reached behind me, grabbed some hair, and pulled it forward in a yanking movement. There was ahowl of pain and the grip over my throat was relinquished. Just as I finally managed to throw off the rope and turn around, some persons rushed there, with cycle-Pillai in the midst of them holding up a glowing Tilley lamp. Both astonished, me and the miffed sarvadhikari [ashram manager] stared at each other for the entire span of a minute.
Then we both laughed, and the men also smiled. ‘Oh! Wretched Rascal!’ said the sarvadhikari genially, ‘for 1/16th of a second, my heart stopped beating! But what are you doing at this hour here?’ I explained to him my condition. He sympathized with me, and himself brought some sacred ash for me, which I put in my mouth. Then all dispersed and I went back to the Hall, to catch some sleep for the remaining hours of night. Bhagavan, towel draped over his chest, was emerging from the Hall, going to attend to his early-morning kitchen duties as usual. I told him what had happened, and he walked away laughing heartily. Before lying down to sleep, I remembered: ஜயஹனுமானஞானகுண ஸாகர ஜய கபீசதிஉஜாகரலோக [Jaya Hanuman Gnana Guna Sakara jaya kabisathikuloka]
Half-way into my mental chanting, the pain vanished altogether. I do not think it will ever return again; nor do I intend to ever give up my habit of chanting this hymn before going to bed.
I was right in my guess concerning the efficacy of the master’s prescription. My afflictions of the gastroenterological system, particularly of the liver, never returned, although they were highly serious at one point of time. Yet, since I am one who feels that if at all I have erred the error must have been one on the side of caution, a tiny packet containing thornier from the master’s mother’s tomb is always to be found on my person. As for the hymn Hanuman chalisa, till date I chant it before retiring to bed. Gentle reader, the sarvadhikari was not trying to murder his suspected robber! The pressure applied was only moderate, and its object was not effectuation of estrangement of life from the body of one understood as being a prospecting burglar but rather merely to eliminate possibility of resistance from my side and pin me down to the ground
The sarvadhikari was always on the edge concerning the question of the ashram’s safety, haunted as he perennially was by the fear that thieves might happen to maraud it yet again; the ashram has been robbed more than once in the past. As to how somebody could have the heart to attack this hallowed ground, I have quite no idea. Human behaviour can often be bafflingly inexplicable. I heard that not long after Sri Bhagavan died, some miscreants tried to set fire to the ashram; these were not strangers but persons well known to the ashram, and had on occasion interacted withthe master even!
Whilst discussing the problem of evil, the master would usually opine that evil was only in the eye of the beholder, and that it was the mischief-mongering mind that permitted man to call one occurrence evil and another good. While the man on the Clapham omnibus may not find this a palatable or pragmatically serviceable piece of advice, devotees of Bhagavan will doubtless be able to cognise its worth.
Cycle-pillai is a nickname for an employee of the ashram, whose actual name is Ramasamy. The funny nickname was given to him because, apart from his other duties, day in and day out he always fetched things for the ashram from town, travelling to and fro on a bicycle, even if it was solely to purchase the tiniest needle. I have heard he is a great devotee of Bhagavan. He even today lives in Tiruvannamalai, I think, perhapsserving the handful still living in the abandoned ashram, reliving memories of the Maharshi.
Edited by John David Oct 2021